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David Colbear

EDGEWORK: the proof

If you have spent any time with my IMPOWER colleagues over the last few years, or spent any time browsing our website, you will have heard or read about EDGEWORK. You may also have asked yourself questions like “What does EDGEWORK look like in practice?”, “How will it impact my demand and costs?” and “Why is it always written in capitals?”. With the help of a graph, I aim to answer the first of those two questions in this blog.

First of all, some context. The graph in question is taken from an actual IMPOWER project and tracks a council’s average spend per day each month on long term care. We chose this as a ‘primed metric’ because it gives a consistent* way of showing the impact of our work in a language that resonates for everyone from elected members, to the finance team and social workers.

Returning to our questions, how does the graph help? We see there are four stages to our engagement with a client, and these reflect the value that EDGEWORK brings.

Stage 1: Identifying the opportunities

This is all about demonstrating that there are opportunities to improve outcomes and reduce cost. In this case spend was rising rapidly and it wasn’t entirely clear why. We applied an Avoidable Demand Analysis to show where there was excess demand in the system and to quantify the financial impact this was having.

Stage 2: Creating confidence

Having identified where excess demand existed, we ran a series of pilots with frontline teams to test strength-based ways of working – essentially asking what an individual, their family and their community could do before considering long term council care. Using one of our inventive methods (‘Unlocking Best Practice’) enabled us to demonstrate the potential for improving outcomes and reducing spend through changing practice. The graph shows how these early interventions quickly helped to stabilise spend.

Stage 3: Delivering improved outcomes and savings

The impact of the pilots gave the council confidence in the approach, and enabled us to expand to the whole directorate, and start to turn the corner in terms of the number of people being supported and the cost in the system. This also enabled us to widen our scope, and start working at the interface of social care and health to further manage demand. As you can see from the graph it required time and patience to achieve the desired impact, but by the time our work was complete spend was on a steady downward trend. What the graph does not tell you is the reduction in spend also reflected improved outcomes as more people were able to live independently – key objective for our work.

Stage 4: Creating resilience

We define organisational resilience as the ability to anticipate, adapt to and bounce forward from disruption. In order to strengthen it, throughout the project we deliberately focused on building the skills, experience and knowledge of the council team we were working with. Activities ranged from embedding the strength-based approach to building performance tools that enabled the team to effectively manage impact at all levels. The graph shows that these efforts were successful – ensuring that daily spend continued to drop as the ‘project work’ became business as usual, delivered by the council team.

Our work with this council was a great example of the full life cycle of working with IMPOWER and a great example of the impact an EDGEWORK approach can have on demand and cost.

Why we write EDGEWORK in capitals, however, is a story for another day…



*Monthly spend can vary enormously – for example the 3-day difference between January and February can account for a 10% difference in spend where all other factors remain the same.


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